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American Reform Judaism

An Introduction

Dana Evan Kaplan

The only comprehensive and up-to-date look at Reform Judaism, this book analyzes the forces currently challenging the Reform movement, now the largest Jewish denomination in the United States.

To distinguish itself from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the Reform movement tries to be an egalitarian, open, and innovative version of the faith true to the spirit of the tradition but nonetheless fully compatible with modern secular life. Promoting itself in this way, Reform Judaism has been tremendously successful in recruiting a variety of people—intermarried families, feminists, gays and lesbians, and interracial families among others—who resist more traditional forms of worship.

As an unintended result of this success, the movement now struggles with an identity crisis brought on by its liberal theology, which teaches that each Jew is free to practice Judaism more or less as he or she pleases. In the absence of the authority that comes from a theology based on a commanding, all-powerful God, can Reform Judaism continue to thrive? Can it be broadly inclusive and still be uniquely and authentically Jewish?

Taking this question as his point of departure, Dana Evan Kaplan provides a broad overview of the American Reform movement and its history, theology, and politics.  He then takes a hard look at the challenges the movement faces as it attempts to reinvent itself in the new millennium.  In so doing, Kaplan gives the reader a sense of where Reform Judaism has come from, where it stands on the major issues, and where it may be going.

 Addressing the issues that have confronted the movement—including the ordination of women, acceptance of homosexuality, the problem of assimilation, the question of rabbinic officiation at intermarriages, the struggle for acceptance in Israel, and Jewish education and others—Kaplan sheds light on the connection between Reform ideology and cultural realities. He unflinchingly, yet optimistically, assesses the movement’s future and cautions that stormy weather may be ahead. 

 

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And Peace Never Came

“It is Easter Sunday, April 1945, early in the morning, maybe just dawn. We stand still, like frozen grey statues. Us. Seven hundred and thirty women, wrapped in wet, grey, threadbare blankets, standing in the rain. Our blankets hang over our heads, drape down to the soil. We hold them closed with our hands from the inside, leaving only a small opening to peer out, so that we save the precious warmth of our breath.” (from Chapter 5)

So begins the author’s sojourn, her search for freedom that begins with the chaotic barrenness in which she found herself after her liberation on Easter Sunday, April 1945, and takes her across several continents and half a lifetime.

Raab paints a brief yet moving picture of her idyllic life before her internment and the shock and the horrors of Auschwitz, but it is in the images of life after her liberation, that Raab imparts her most poignant story — a story told in a clear, almost sparse, always honest style, a story of the brutal, and, at times, the beautiful facts of human nature.

This book will appeal to a number of audiences — to readers interested in human nature under the most trying circumstances, to historians of World War II or Jewish history, to veterans and their families who lived through World War II, and to those interested in politics and the evils of political extremism.

Shortlisted for the 1998 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-fiction.

Winner of the 1999 Jewish Book Committee award for best Holocaust memoir.

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Anne Frank Unbound

Media, Imagination, Memory

Edited by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Jeffrey Shandler

As millions of people around the world who have read her diary attest, Anne Frank, the most familiar victim of the Holocaust, has a remarkable place in contemporary memory. Anne Frank Unbound looks beyond this young girl's words at the numerous ways people have engaged her life and writing. Apart from officially sanctioned works and organizations, there exists a prodigious amount of cultural production, which encompasses literature, art, music, film, television, blogs, pedagogy, scholarship, religious ritual, and comedy. Created by both artists and amateurs, these responses to Anne Frank range from veneration to irreverence. Although at times they challenge conventional perceptions of her significance, these works testify to the power of Anne Frank, the writer, and Anne Frank, the cultural phenomenon, as people worldwide forge their own connections with the diary and its author.

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Anthonius Margaritha and the Jewish Faith

Jewish Life and Conversion in Sixteenth-Century Germany

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Anti-Jewish Violence

Rethinking the Pogrom in East European History

Edited by Jonathan Dekel-Chen, David Gaunt, Natan M. Meir, and Israel Bartal

Although overshadowed in historical memory by the Holocaust, the anti-Jewish pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were at the time unrivaled episodes of ethnic violence. Incorporating newly available primary sources, this collection of groundbreaking essays by researchers from Europe, the United States, and Israel investigates the phenomenon of anti-Jewish violence, the local and transnational responses to pogroms, and instances where violence was averted. Focusing on the period from World War I through Russia's early revolutionary years, the studies include Poland, Ukraine, Belorussia, Lithuania, Crimea, and Siberia.

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Antisemitism and the Constitution of Sociology

Marcel Stoetzler

Modern antisemitism and the modern discipline of sociology not only emerged in the same period, but—antagonism and hostility between the two discourses notwithstanding—also overlapped and complemented each other. Sociology emerged in a society where modernization was often perceived as destroying unity and “social cohesion.” Antisemitism was likewise a response to the modern age, offering in its vilifications of “the Jew” an explanation of society’s deficiencies and crises.
 
Antisemitism and the Constitution of Sociology is a collection of essays providing a comparative analysis of modern antisemitism and the rise of sociology. This volume addresses three key areas: the strong influence of writers of Jewish background and the rising tide of antisemitism on the formation of sociology; the role of antisemitism in the historical development of sociology through its treatment by leading figures in the field, such as Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, and Theodor W. Adorno; and the discipline’s development in the aftermath of the Nazi Holocaust. Together the essays provide a fresh perspective on the history of sociology and the role that antisemitism, Jews, fascism, and the Holocaust played in shaping modern social theory.
 

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Antisemitism in Canada

History and Interpretation

This book is the first collection of scholarly essays to treat the topic of antisemitism in Canada, a complete history of which has yet to be written. Eleven leading thinkers in the field examine antisemitism in Canada, from the colonial era to the present day, in essays which reflect the saga of the nation itself. The history of the Jewish community, its struggles and its fortunes is mirrored in the wider history of Canada, from Confederation to the present.

The contributors cast light on Canadian antisemitism through a thorough examination of old and new tensions, including Anglo-French, east-west and Jewish-Ukrainian relations. Attitudes to Jews in pre-Confederation Canada, French Canada from Confederation to World War I as well as the interwar years, and in twentieth-century Ontario and Alberta from 1880-1950 are illustrated in various chapters. Of particular interest are the examinations of such well-known figures as Goldwin Smith, the greatly admired liberal historian of Victorian Canada, Adrien Arcand, the would-be Führer from Quebec, and James Keegstra and Ernst Züdel, of more recent notoriety. Analyses are also provided of Nazism and Canadian Protestantism and Jewish-Ukrainian relations since World War II. This is a complex and contentious subject; yet, to understand the ideas and forces that have sought to undermine the Jewish presence in Canada is to understand the dangers that threaten any democratic society, and thereby to guard against them.

This compelling collection of essays offers intelligent, readable accounts of an area of Canadian history about which we know too little.

Winner of the 1993 Jewish Book Committee award for Scholarship on a Canadian Jewish subject.

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Apocalyptic Messianism and Contemporary JewishAmerican Poetry

Focusing on the rich context of esoteric Jerish literature, this collection presents indepth analyses of JewishAmerican poetry. Gitenstein defines Jewish messianism and the literary genre of the apocalyptic, describes historical movements and kabbalistic theories, and analyzes their influence as part of the postHolocaust consciousness. Represented are works by such poets as Irving Feldman, Jack Hirschman, John Hollander, David Meltzer, and Jerome Rothenberg.

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Appel Is Forever

A Child’s Memoir

Suzanne Mehler Whiteley

Born in Amsterdam in 1935, Suzanne Mehler Whiteley saw the ravages of war through a child's eyes. Her memoir, written in the voice of a young girl, describes the years before the invasion of Holland, her experiences during the German occupation, her time spent in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and her childhood afterward in Europe and then the United States. Appel Is Forever describes in a child's words atrocities that should never be seen by anyone. Through young Suzanne's introspection, readers are invited to see beyond the history of events to their deeper meaning. We come to see how the miracle of having survived opens a child up to the potential for playfulness and even happiness, while a young girl's observations of coming to her new country remind us of both the promises and hardships of the American dream.

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Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky

Stories of Accommodation and Audacity

Nora Rose Moosnick

Outwardly it would appear that Arab and Jewish immigrants comprise two distinct groups with differing cultural backgrounds and an adversarial relationship. Yet, as immigrants who have settled in communities at a distance from metropolitan areas, both must negotiate complex identities. Growing up in Kentucky as the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, Nora Rose Moosnick observed this traditionally mismatched pairing firsthand, finding that, Arab and Jewish immigrants have been brought together by their shared otherness and shared fears. Even more intriguing to Moosnick was the key role played by immigrant women of both cultures in family businesses -- a similarity which brings the two groups close together as they try to balance the demands of integration into American society.

In Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky: Stories of Audacity and Accomodation, Moosnick reveals how Jewish and Arab women have navigated the intersection of tradition, assimilation, and Kentucky's cultural landscape. The stories of ten women's experiences as immigrants or the children of immigrants join around common themes of public service to their communities, intergenerational relationships, running small businesses, and the difficulties of juggling family and work. Together, their compelling narratives challenge misconceptions and overcome the invisibility of Arabs and Jews in out of the way places in America.

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